You’ve been on Facebook for years, but as you begin your job search, is Facebook your friend? Or your foe? That depends entirely on how you use it.
The first thing you need to do before starting a job search is to clean up your social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should all be scrubbed to the level where you are comfortable with a Recruiter or Hiring Manager checking you out there. So the beer bong handstand pics are probably out and so are the racy swimsuit pics, but so are some other things that you might think are OK, like political posts. Yes, your political views are your own and you are welcome to them. But in the world of interviewers, ask yourself if you want your politics out there visible before you are even interviewed. In the end, it’s your call. But put on the interviewer hat and review your pics and posts from that perspective. If they run the risk of being a negative, it is best for you to remove them.
The same thing applies for active Twitter users. While some users start a second account that they intend to use for professional purposes, your personal posts are also out there. In any case, if you have personal stuff you don’t want your future employer to see, change your privacy settings to restrict access. Yet, even then, know that if you apply for the job with the government, these privacy settings will likely not shield you from the government’s reach.
Beyond cleaning up your accounts, each social media element has its own positive role it can play in your job search.
Facebook can be used as a way to network for jobs with family and friends. If you are looking for a job with a specific employer, but don’t have any contacts there, put out a FB post and you will probably find that one of your FB friends is connected to someone at that employer. Even a general post about your job search using your 30-second pitch of your qualifications and what you are seeking can go a long way to making further potential connections. Remember, it’s not who you know personally, it’s who they know. People love helping others when they can. And often are financially incentivized to do so with employee referral programs.
For Twitter, use your account to follow industry leaders and thought leaders in your career path and also to post links to interesting articles as you read them along with insightful comments, which will help you to gain followers of your own. And again, post your 30-second pitch of your qualifications once you have gained enough followers and ask them to share.
LinkedIn is referred to as being part of the social media universe, but it’s really all about job search. It’s like Facebook on job steroids. If you haven’t yet set up an account at LinkedIn, now is the time to do so. Then begin making connections, first with people who you know, then reaching out further to people with whom they are connected. As you build your network, you will also build your first level access. It will serve as a valuable research tool for you to find out more about employers and employees. But remember that while you are researching them, they are also researching you. While Facebook and Twitter have a personal element, LinkedIn is all professional.
So job search on social media is a 1-2: 1) clean up your accounts; and 2) use your connections to get you further connected in the world of work.